Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Wednesday Whoa - The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

 You can always rely on Michael Connelly to come  through on his writing with Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch.  The Night Fire does not disappoint. 

Bosch is now very independent.   Renee Ballard  is on the "outs", so can run a bit rogue. The two together  are dynamite in research, perseverance, and  investigation. 

Lots of twists and turns  in this book.  Quick paced. Masterful suspense. Cold case that suddenly heats up....

Oh yeah!  Trust me. Start reading  and you won't stop. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Monday Review Madness - The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

 The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware is a very entertaining read. So tricky. So spellbinding. This author draws you in and does not let go until the last page. Dang. 

Harriet Westaway, one step away from eviction, gets a letter in the mail indicating she's come into some money. But wait, she reviews her folders - hmm, do they have the wrong granddaughter?  Her paperwork does not add up, but what the heck?  Maybe she can pull this off?

Hal hopes that her "career" as a tarot card reader can  help her pull off a claim to money. She feels guilty, but she has some bad guys threatening her life. 

At Trespassen,  the family estate, she meets her uncles, hears about her dead mother/aunt, and is pulled into quite the mystery mess. Soon, she's quite threatened and scared for her life. 

whoa!   Keep those pages turning and hang in until the end.   Great read!

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Movie Madness Multiverse and Dr. Strange

 Running a bit behind on movie  reviews, but we are finally seeing more in the theaters. Part of the whole  Marvel gang, Dr. Strange - Multiverse of Madness, was extremely entertaining on the super big screen. Benedict Cumberbatch is always darn good. Elizabeth Olsen, with those big eyes and innocent face, can be so evil as The Scarlett Witch. 

The effects are very cool.  The fight scenes (and there's a lot of them) are well choreographed. Keeping  track  of time and space is tricky and that's the point  of  the multiverse. I can't give you a coherent  plot line. 

Dr. Strange does encounter a young teenager who does not know her own  powers. She does  know she zips through time, but can't seem to control it, but she's being chased by a higher being  who wishes to capture and  harness her strengths. Of  course, only Dr. Strange and his whole  group of  mystical  spirit beings could  be the folks to  save her. So we zoom through portals. We ponder difficulties. We try to understand how  Wanda/Scarlett Witch can be conquered. 

The two hour movie goes by quick enough and Ray and I were entertained. There is a teaser trailer  during final credits - hint ,  there's Charlize Theron....say what?  We do come out and say WTF?  But it's fun and for five dollars, I'm happy. 

It's Madness, I tell  you.....Madness. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Wednesday Art Splash

 Ray joined me at the Kimbell Art Museum for this rather cool exhibit. Always  good to explore different art and this was no  exception. It's an  incredible compilation of African masks, figures, applied arts, and jewelry giving meaning  to daily and ritual life. 

Concepts of beauty are created in  art and the word utotombo means  beautiful and good. 

The art in this exhibit explores Western appreciations and appropriations. The skill and beauty are different to my eyes, but intriguing. I wanted to touch the art - so many intricately carved pieces. So many pieces pay homage  to the female  figure and to male strengths. Religion plays a big part in much of the art. There is also ugliness meant for humor. 

So much of the art on display was from the 1800s and early 1900s. I had to reflect on  the history. How much was pillaged and plundered, and thus preserved? That's a sad and yet worthy question. There were pictures from various African villages. Were these pieces taken from in front  of villagers homes? 

Alas,  that issue was not discussed. Nonetheless, the pieces are nicely displayed and now cared for as a part of African history. We must respect the ART!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Monday Moments

I should be arriving in PA any day now.  Not sure if I'm doing  any sightseeing  along the way...maybe some Smoky Mountain National Park. Tennessee has a lot of great scenery to enjoy.   Meanwhile, here are some TX state park pics and some good random quotes. 

Without order there can be no society, and without society there can be no human perfection - Matthew Arnold.   (P.S. I think we are falling way short on decent  society....just sayin')

There it was...the irresistible destination  of all those  who insist on  being  where things are happening - Tom Wolfe on NYC in the 1980s    Oh yeah.  Maybe while I'm in PA I'll hop a train for  a day in NYC  - that's a dream.  Do I have enough $$$$
Do what you are afraid to do - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Okay, I dare you.   Let's see what we  all  achieve this summer.....

Friday, June 17, 2022

Friday Friends and Family

Hey - When you read this, I am on  my way to PA. Yep, time to drive from TX to PA and go  hang with Dad.  Someone needs to keep track of him since my brother and his wife are actually taking a vacation. Oh no - am I a reliable caretaker?  Hmmmm. Questionable. 

Anyway - I hope to see of my PA crew - I've known these ladies since junior high, high school, and college. What a crew

And I'll miss these ladies back  in TX. We'll  have  our pool days in August when I return
Here's an oldie with my sister and dad in NYC. .  Nope - Dad will not be going to NYC or much further than his recliner.  But we'll have laughs at the kitchen table. 
Another batch of friends. We celebrated a birthday, had lots of laughs, and good cheer. 
And then there's Ray.  He'll be my guy booking  my hotels as I drive east. He'll be holding down the fort, attending  Texas Ranger baseball games, and no doubt running amok. 

If anyone sees him doing anything  too crazy....well, let me know if I need to file an insurance claim. 

I'm prepping some posts. I hope you folks have a good  summer month - mid June  to mid July. I plan on eating a cheesesteak or two, some really good pizza, heading  to the shore, and enjoying time with my dad, family, old friends, etc. 

Stay cool, stay safe,  and use sunscreen!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Wednesday Whatever

I agree, Emma. 

 Very easy to put off any chore when one has a book in hand. 

Or practically leaning over someone's shoulder to see what they are reading.  Having flown lately, I found myself glancing at a seatmate's iPad. It drove me mad and he read very slowly - ugh...I was ready for him to move on...ha!

Or when you become new friends with someone and the first time you go to the house...I have  to restrain myself from not immediately heading to  any bookshelves and reviewing the choices. Then I do judge if there is appropriate lighting for actual reading.

I am shameless.  Anyone with me?

Whatever, Wednesday

Monday, June 13, 2022

Monday Moments - The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

My PA gang chose this book, The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich as our latest book club choice and  it is a wow of a story. The writing, the characters, and the plot lines are so rich and full of history, life issues, humanity, etc. I could gush more. 

Louise Erdrich based this book on her grandfather, a night watchman who battled the government for Native American rights, to stop a new "emancipation" bill in 1953 and protect the Chippewa Nation - its land and identity. 

I admit I am not up on Native American issues, but this book, though fiction based on facts and real lives, opened my eyes.  Cover blurb - How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith 'for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run?' 

Meet Thomas, the night watchman at the local jewel bearing plant. This is a man of good stead, good heart, and a truly wise man with faith that truth will bear out. He's a thinker and truly takes his time  to research and  find the truth.  Pixie (Patrice) Paranteau is a hard worker with a tough family life. She's trying  to find her lost sister, a child, and dives deep into city exploitation, violence, and danger as a Native American woman. 

This book grapples with (cover blurb) the worst and best of human impulses, illuminates loves and lives, desires and ambitions, and does it all with compassion, wit, and intelligence.  

I truly admire Erdrich's literary talents and  her  deep dive into characters. The Night Watchman is a book club hit. Lots of food for thought and more to explore from Erdrich's rich writing achievements. 

Friday, June 10, 2022

Friday Sweetness

 I watched many clips  of the Platinum Jubilee Celebration and enjoyed the concert celebration last Saturday night.  Seventy years on the throne.  God Bless Queen Elizabeth.  God Save the Queen

She reminds me incredibly of my grandmother.  I truly believe she has been a steward and loyal servant to the crown. Duty to her country.   Very admirable. 

And she has a sense of humor.  The clip with her and Paddington Bear was priceless. 

She's frail and I do fear for her health.   Meanwhile, I salute her. 

Cheers all on a Friday.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Wednesday Walk - Cleburne State Park - part 2

As promised, more Cleburne State Park from May 26th.  You can see it's a gorgeous day. And there's Ray still ready to trudge along.  We are headed up to the CCC Spillway.  Alas, no water  was showing off in waterfalls. Texas has  just been too dry. 
But the  work of the Civilian  Conservation Corp back in  the 1930s was superb. 
You think of Texas as really flat,  but there is some dramatic  elevation  here in limestone. 
Truly breathtaking
This was definitely worth stopping  the  car and  following  the  trail. 

Find your next adventure in  your own backyard (i.e. within an hour's drive, I bet)

And our final reward for our trail treks. Once back in the car, we drove into  Cleburne and found a really tasty Tex-Mex place - La Fiesta.  Mmmm. enchiladas for me. Fajitas for Ray. 

Once home, it was siesta time.  Perfect day. 

Monday, June 6, 2022

Monday Funday - Cleburne State Park part 1

Thursday, May 26, dawned perfect.  A  decent rain had burst our heat bubble and cleared out ozone  warnings.  It was 70 degrees, sunny,  blue sky, and yes, time to take advantage again of my Texas State Park  retirement pass.  Destination - Cleburne State Park.  One hour drive. 

Spring fed Cedar Lake was fairly clear. 
We drove, stopped, hiked some little trails, and kept  coming back to the lake
Love a cactus bloom on the trail. It's near the end of the season  for that. 

Splendid  time walking and certainly gave Ray's  new knee  a challenge. It  was up  to the  task. 

Go find your nearest state park - it's worth a trip. Restrooms  are clean. Paths are easy enough to figure out on the map. Fresh air, my friends.    Clears the head. 

Part 2 of our adventure on Wednesday. 

Friday, June 3, 2022

Finally Friday - peruse and cruise The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

 The  Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles is a tour de force of a book. Settle in as a passenger as Towles takes you on quite a multilayered journey with rich settings, cleverly fleshed out characters, and themes of honor, choice, friendship, and family. 

It's 1954 and Emmett Watson (18) has returned to Nebraska after a stint at a juvenile work farm. His father has passed, the family farm is foreclosed. Emmett has his little brother,  Billy (8) and his Studebaker, plus some cash that his father had hidden. Time to hit the  road  for California. Emmett's plan is to find an old home, fix it up, and sell it and keep moving up with real estate. Billy's goal is find the mother that left them years ago. 

Speaking of hidden, turns out two friends from the work farm, Duchess and Woolly managed to sneak in a ride to Nebraska. The big plan is to go to New York, get Woolly's family fortune, split the money, and then move on. Duchess is the schemer, working  the deals, paying back both good and bad. Woolly's a sensitive soul who came from money and has drifted through the world lost, but with a life code. Emmett's got the burden of the world on his shoulders and needs to be the leader and a voice of reason. Little Billy turns out to be a grounding factor for all and at times the most level headed. 

The author gives backstories and weaves the past, present, and  future together with the Lincoln Highway (a road that starts in Times Square NY and finishes in San Francisco, CA) to provide an incredible tale. I loved this book, the characters; I worried for them; I laughed with them; I feared for them; and  I was very sad when I finished The Lincoln Highway.  I just wasn't ready to exit the vehicle. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Wednesday Whoa - Top Gun Maverick

 Highway to the Danger Zone - thanks Kenny Loggins  for your awesome tune. 

Tom Cruise nailed it for Memorial Weekend.  Top Gun Maverick is action packed adventure, nostalgia, and  just hot shot edge of your seat zoom zoom effects.  Ray said he felt clenched at times. I was wishing I took  some Dramamine. 

This movie is the right mix of some looking back (oh Goose, oh those young guys - Iceman, Maverick, etc. ), and also current day.  Pete "Maverick" Mitchell is still "just" a Captain. So what?  He's the  BEST.  Don't think,  just fly. Oh, he's still annoying higher ups (Jon Hamm), and yes Iceman (Val Kilmer) - now Admiral of the Pacific Fleet has kept  Maverick in the loop and in a job.  They handle Val Kilmer's current life condition (throat cancer, etc) well and dang, that's a bit of a sniffle. 

And now Goose's son, Rooster (an  excellent Miles Teller) is in the mix for a top mission but of course there's some bad blood issues. Gee - do you think there's some drama?  Oh yeah. 

Jennifer Connelly is the love interest and it's good to see her on screen. She's pretty, age appropriate, and holds her own in scenes. 

I won't give the plot but you can count on Maverick (Tom Cruise)  to save the day. (no Huge plot surprise).  Just go. Enjoy.!!!  Bask in the big screen and a perfect movie  to get us excited about movies again. 

Hello Summer Blockbusters!